Friday 3 October 2008

One week of college done

Wow, what an exciting week. I have been incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to spend the last week studying at college. I'm having the time of my life, enjoying my lectures, my chapel worship and all the wonderful things in between. My lecturers are incredibly godly people and incredibly wise.

It's wonderful! Wonderful!

Saturday 9 August 2008

5 years married and more in love everyday?

Yesterday Clare and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.
The day broke down as below:

* Opened "wood" themed presents for each other

* Went to the Chill Factor(e) where Clare had bought me a snowboarding taster session. I loved it and never fell off!

* Home for a shower!

* La Tasca for lunch, mmmmm.

* The DIY shop for all those last minute DIY needs

* The Red Cinema for a walk around the Lowry, popcorn and Wall-E (amazing)

* Home to sleep

(not the most amazing blog post ever, but sometimes you've just got to enjoy the good things that happen around you!)

Friday 1 August 2008

The Dark-est Knight

Last night a friend and I swooped down to a cinema in the modern heart of Latvia's capital city, Riga. We went to the shiny new multiplex cinema to see the new Christopher Nolan Batman movie: The Dark Knight.

I'm not going to give any of the plot away; no spoilers here so it's safe to read on. I don't want to ruin the film for you and I don't want to get sued so it makes sense to steer clear! The movie is a blast. a fantastic follow up to the first Christopher Nolan Batman movie, Batman Begins.

It's a movie that raises questions and is constantly trying to answer those questions whilst posing further and further questions. It's no surprise that a non-official book about Batman and philosophy has been released in 2008. There are so many questions about good, identity, morality, faith, hope, justice, tolerance, etc, etc, etc, the list just keeps going....

One theme that follows on from the last movie into this film is the question of who the Batman actually is.... We, the audience know it's Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), but most of the inhabitants of Gotham city have no clue.

That's a fascinating concept, an intriguing suggestion; doing all the hard work for none of the glory. Like serving meals on wheels, or being the cashier's assistant at a local community finance initiative, or being one of those people who pray for the persecuted Christian's they hear about in books and at conferences.

A not so recent phenomena is that of the celebrity endorsement for a charity or for a certain work. It's fantastic. When we see a footballer from the Premiership doing a street workshop with some inner-city youth, or when we see a movie actress visiting a small school in Ethiopia. They are raising awareness for the charity, I'm not interested in hearing about the positive impact on their celebrity status, let's not detract from good work for the sake of cynicism.

What is better though, is the millions slipping their pennies into the charity envelopes, the countless people who will never get to visit that school, or who can't teach kids positive footballing skills.

And it's worth remembering (when we're drained from effort, or frustration, or lack of thanks, or emptiness) that Batman wears a mask. The people of Gotham don't know who he is but they know he's there. Those who strive to keep community organisations going, or who support charities in everyday ways may not get much recognition, but the charities and the community organisations know who they are!

Besides all that; the movie is fabulous, terrifying at times, but fabulous.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Up on a mountain, alone

This morning, as with yesterday morning, in my morning quiet time I was re-reading John 6, paying particular attention to verse 15. Jesus has just fed 5,000 people and he's getting caught up in people's expectations.

Verse 15 reads, "Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone." After doing some amazing things the crowds were growing and their expectations were growing too, all things were building up, it appears, to the apparently inevitable conclusion that Jesus was their day-to-day earthly king. There must have been an awful lot of worldly expectation to go with such a projected outcome. Maybe Jesus realized that they would try to force Him to be their king. So He went up on a mountain, where He could be alone. Expectations regarding Jesus freeing Jerusalem from the Romans, expectations about uniting God's people, dealing with foreigners, sorting out taxes, criminal cases, petty arguments in the street, about who was more important. So much expectation...

The people didn't have God's picture, His insight into what Jesus was to accomplish. I love that Jesus went up a mountain to be alone, He took a step back from people's expectations, He took a step back from the pressures of His public life. What did He do? I imagine He prayed, like He prayed whenever He went somewhere to be alone. But not totally alone. Alone with His Father.

People's expectations can be too much; they can weigh us down, positively drown us, stifle us, snuff out creativity and imprison freedom and expression. What is Jesus expecting of us? Forget what the crowd thinks or expects? What about God? Maybe we need to retreat to a mountain to be alone. But not totally alone. Alone with God, our Father.

Tuesday 1 July 2008


For my fifteenth birthday my mum and dad bought me a red mountain bike. I've still got it. I love my red mountain bike, except when it's raining and I have to get to work on it! From the age of 15 until I was 18 I rode it constantly. Between the ages of 18-22 I never rode it. From the age of 23 onwards I've used it very regularly. Usually everyday.

It's a great bike, though I have noticed that in the last few months I've been getting a bit fed up with it. The problem is, my red bike is a mountain bike and Sale and the surrounding area are... quite flat. So my bike hasn't really been used very efficiently. I see people riding to work on road bikes and racing bikes and they go like the wind. My old bike, well, it chugs along the road, with me puffing away at the peddles. It's an 18 gear bike, though it's now only really got 12!

Today I took my bike on the Transpennine Trail. It was fantastic, rocks, puddles, mud, puddles, mud, rocks, scree, incredible speeds, darting in and out, absolutely brilliant.

My poor red bike would have loved it if it wasn't just a slowly rotting, rusting object. It was fit for the purpose it was used for. It's not the best bike on a road or as a commuter vehicle, but shove it on a hill, or a trail and it's transformed. It changes from being a reasonably okay bike, to a glorious colossus capable of flattening mountains.... Well maybe not, but there is a point.

Made for a purpose, the bike is excellent. Sometimes, in my life I forget what purpose I was made for. I struggle along doing things I was never created to do. Knowing what I have been made to do is difficult. We could all have been made for all sorts of reasons. The struggle, then, is accepting the fact that we might be better suited to a different course!

Monday 30 June 2008

Why God's Lonely Man?

My use of the name 'God's Lonely Man' is a response to a famous quotation by Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) from an essay he wrote called, 'God's Lonely Man'. In his essay he says,

"The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence."

In my earlier days I related to this quotation heavily. I sensed that for myself, loneliness and solitary introversion could well some up my very being! Though I was a lively young man growing up, the hours spent reading books, walking on the moors, playing computer games, watching movies, writing poetry or staring at the stars were where I felt most at home. This melancholic loneliness wasn't depressive nor overtly dark, but it was certainly introspective.

Since becoming a follower of Christ my life has changed so radically. Not that I am no longer an introvert or someone who loves to be alone! What has changed is that I no longer feel that sense of "aloneness" as I know that the maker of heaven and earth is with me through everything I experience and every place I go. Whether that is a Psalm 23 "shadow of death" thing or more an experience of being aware of the presence of God. There is no place that a follower of Christ can go to be lost and separated from God. He is with me in all places, in all my travels, my work, my sleeping, my washing up and my praying.

Wonderfully God makes himself known more explicitly in unexpected places. At times and in places where you can't help but see God's kingdom shining through the cracks and weeds of the world around us.

Friday 27 June 2008

Psalm 62:5-8

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;

he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;

he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

I've given my blog the address because of the place that Psalm 62 has in my life. I was going to think of a cool name, something like 'emergent pilgrim' or 'agape peace brother' or something along those lines! Trying to be relevent and still honest, to have integrity and wit. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "I need to just return to where I'm from."

Almost ten years ago Psalm 62:5-8 were given to me when I was in a difficult place. The person who told me those verses could have said something else, some sort of home-brew wisdom, but it was the God inspired wisdom of David, a man who's been there and done that, that was most useful for me. In a round-about Psalm 62 answered a lot of my spiritual questions, it brought me closer to the truth of who God is and how much I can rely on him. The verses in Psalm 62 still resonate with me and continue to transform and shape who I am as a follower of Christ.

As such I thought they made quite a good waymark of my walk of faith. They cement together to create a picture of a God who is beyond all the rubbish, who won't get washed away in the storms of life, a God who is unshakeable in his love, his mercy and his grace.

Next time in my blog, I'll try to put into words where the God's Lonely Man thing came from. I'll then actually get down to the business of what this blog is about.

Follower Of The Way

I had started writing a blog elsewhere on this global network "the internet" but it fell to pieces. So I've moved. I'll explain the name of the blog and my user name in the next blog.

So a recap... Follower Of The Way? Because people are called to follow. I love Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis. In his chapter, Torah, he speaks about the way Jesus called his followers. I love it. In Matthew 4 Jesus is walking along by the lake of Galilee. He calls out to Andrew and Simon (Peter) and says "come follow me!" Later on he does the same with James and John, who leave their father's business and their careers behind.

I love the imagery, the concept that there is a calling, there is an option, to step out of the race, like one of the rocks orbiting Saturn, doing a 180 and orbitting in the other direction.Following? Because it's all about following, trying to make sense of where we are, where we are going and where we are being led. Knowing that infront of us is a way, a direction that is pure and spotless and good, and knowing that we can veer to the left, to the right, but still know that the 'way' will still be ahead of us. That's not an excuse to do whatever we want, instead it's an opportunity to see God's grace.Enough said.